Shadow Minister for Main Roads and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said a brochure sent to households last month by the federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch is nothing more than junk mail.

Mr Pitt said the brochure invites people to ‘Join Warren’s campaign’ to fix the Bruce Highway and nominate their top three problems out of six options.

“Asking people for their input is a fine idea but why ask about three projects that are already underway?” Mr Pitt said.

“Mr Entsch does this knowing full well that funding has been allocated and work has commenced on three of these projects – the Cairns Bruce Highway Upgrade, the Cardwell Range Realignment and Wrights Creek Bridge.

[singlepic id=445 w=320 h=240 float=left] “He even uses a photo of Wrights Creek Bridge on the cover of his junk mail. If you look closely enough, you can even see the flags marking out the pre-construction work in the photo. A photo of the opposite side of the road reveals the truth.

“This is the second time Mr Entsch has tried to use Wrights Creek Bridge for political mileage. What exactly does he plan to add to this project that has already been funded by Labor and is already being delivered?

“In terms of the Innisfail Bypass, it is clear Mr Entsch hasn’t bothered to do his homework because the latest traffic modelling indicates a bypass will not be required for between 10 to 20 years.” *

“The Innisfail Bypass and other projects were identified and included in the former state Labor government’s Bruce Highway Upgrade Strategy.

“Mr Entsch is well aware of that strategy document as it will no doubt form the basis of any document that winds up being produced by his blatantly political lobby group.

“Those who survived the Newman Government’s purge of 1,970 government workers in Transport and Main Roads will now probably be asked to prepare a new strategy document for appearances sake.”

Mr Pitt said this sort of thing is another example of the LNP treating people with contempt.

“The brochure is a slap in the face for those workers who are busy on the construction of the Cairns Bruce Highway and Cardwell Range upgrades and pre-construction phase for Wrights Creek,” he said.

“This brochure is a disgrace and is an obvious ploy to later point to the commencement of work or the finished product and say it’s because of feedback provided to him and because of his lobbying.

“Instead of playing his game, people should send these brochures back to Mr Entsch and ask why he’s trying to take credit for projects that have not only already been announced but are already underway.”

Mr Pitt said it was also difficult to tell the time period Mr Entsch was referring to when he made a speech recently in response to the federal budget:

“For too many years, Leichhardt has missed out on funding and investment opportunities—they have bypassed us—and projects have stagnated to the point where my constituents sometimes wonder whether they are considered part of this wonderful country at all.” **

“He must’ve been referring to the Bruce Highway spend during his time as Member for Leichhardt under the Howard Government.

“Mr Entsch should be asking former Transport Minister Warren Truss to explain why the Howard Government starved Queensland of roads funding for a decade.

“Maybe Mr Entsch should take a leaf out of the book of his ‘Crisis management colleague’, Member for Herbert Ewan Jones, who said:

“I’ll give Labor a pat on the back and say that they have spent more in their four or five years on the Bruce Highway than we did before.” ***

“Compared to the Howard Government, federal Labor has invested more than twice as much in half the time. Under federal Labor, Queensland now receives over $400 million a year for the Bruce Highway compared to $100 million a year when the Coalition was last in power.

“It sounds like at least the Member for Herbert has finally realised that when it comes to spending on the Bruce Highway in Queensland, people can only rely on Labor.”

‘Reality check’

The current status of three projects listed in the brochure:

[singlepic id=443 w=320 h=240 float=left] $150 million Cairns Bruce Highway upgrade: work is underway and due for completion in late 2013. The project will improve access from the Bruce Highway into Cairns. This is stage one of a 30 year Cairns Bruce Highway Upgrade master plan to improve traffic flow and safety for all road users on the southern approach to Cairns city.

[singlepic id=446 w=320 h=240 float=left] $115 million Cardwell Range Realignment: work is underway and due for completion late 2012. The upgrade will involve realigning the highway to reduce the steepness of the road. Wider road shoulders will be constructed and the sharpness of curves on the road will be reduced. Slow vehicle passing lanes will also be constructed on both sides of the range. The 180 metre long, high level viaduct has just been completed.

$10 million Wrights Creek Bridge: pre-construction work is underway on the widening and realignment project south of Edmonton due for completion by late 2012 (see photo above).

* DTMR states there are no immediate plans for construction based on the most recent Automatic Number Plate Recognition survey conducted in 2009 using 14 tri-pod mounted cameras to collect data about the travel patterns and volumes of vehicles using roads in and through Innisfail.

** House of Representatives Hansard, 29 May 2012, page 145.
*** 10 July 2012, opening of the $110 million Douglas Arterial Road, completed 10 per cent under budget and 12 months early.